Deadline close for gravel pit study
TOWN OF MILTON Town officials hope to have results of a consultant's study on a proposed gravel pit by Jan. 14, and town Supervisor Marian Trescher says she's trying to "stir things up" to make the study meets the deadline.
Trescher, who also chairs the town's planning and zoning committee, said she'd been in touch with the consultants in past weeks, but the consultants were not at a meeting Monday to give an update on the status of the study.
Earlier this year, the town chose Cottage Grove hydrological engineer Montgomery Associates and Stoughton environmental firm Taylor Conservation to study how a 137-acre proposed gravel pit along North Klug Road could affect erosion, air quality and wildlife.
The study is viewed as the last stage in a months-long conditional-use permit application process for local landowner Scott Traynor and gravel pit developer Tom Amon.
Amon's Elkhorn gravel company, Amon & Sons, wants to develop the pit to fuel road construction projects.
On Monday, Montgomery Associates hydrologist Steven Gaffield said his firm and Taylor Conservation have been plowing through permit materials the town and Amon have supplied. Gaffield said the two firms were still doing fieldwork at the proposed pit site, but that the study could be ready within a month.
Trescher said as of a week ago, Taylor Conservation was still checking the proposed site for wildlife that could be affected. Firm owner Scott Taylor said Monday that his group was still in the early stages of working on the study.
Both firms have said they'd unveil the results at a public meeting.
Trescher said the town hopes to have results of the study by Jan. 14. Planning and zoning committee member Scott Barker said he hopes that if the study's not finished by then the firms can at least provide partial findings.
Town officials are eager to finish the study because it's the second time Traynor and Amon have applied for the pit. Talks about the pit have drug out for months, at one point stalling completely while the town decided whether to conduct an environmental study.
The town board shot down the first permit application early this year because a wetland conservation zoning designation would not allow it. The board later threw out that zoning designation, paving the way for Amon to submit a second permit request.
The move was controversial, and board members bickered for weeks about whether the town had waded into the situation without knowing enough about the possible environmental impacts of the proposed pit.
Pit operators would shave gravel off a tree-lined glacial hillside next to state wetlands, flattening the hill, plans said. Later, pit operators would restore the area to farmland.
The town in September decided to hire consultants for a final evaluation of how the pit could affect the land.
Amon has kept silent in recent months, telling the media he doesn't want to say anything that could further hinder his permit application.
Town officials say Amon's been cooperative during the consultant's study. Trescher said Amon has sent the town a $22,000 check to pay for the study.
Neighbors along Klug Road who live near the proposed pit oppose its development because they say it would alter the landscape and create traffic, noise and dust. The neighbors have united in a grassroots effort to stop the pit.
The neighbors group also has hired a lawyer and has threatened to sue the town if it approves the plan.
County officials have said that even if the town approves the pit, it would need several layers of county and state approval before it can be developed.